I’ve been posting pieces about my writing these past few weeks, and let me be honest here: that’s been easy. Writing is most often a solitary pursuit. If I’m not enjoying myself as I’m writing, I’ve got nobody to blame but myself.
When I look back at my teaching career, my feelings are varied and complex. Schools are ever-dynamic places. Special education teachers are at the center of a wheel with spokes that reach out to include parents, principals, special education administrators, and support staff like speech therapists, occupational therapists, adapted physical education specialists, physical therapists, adapted technology specialists, school psychologists—gee, am I leaving anybody out?
Well, of course, there are the instructional assistants. Most special education classes are assigned at least one or two full time aides. In other words, as a teacher I generally had one or two other adults with me and the kids nearly all the time. These people are tremendously important. If you get along well with them, your workday is pleasant, your lesson plans run smoothly, the kids are happy, and life is good. If you don’t get along with them, life is hell. That’s all. It’s hell; trust me on this.
Also I can’t forget custodians, secretaries, cafeteria workers and noon duty playground supervisors. There may even be after school program teachers and aides.
You see, when your students need extra help and extra supervision everywhere they go, a teacher’s got to grease the wheels by fostering friendliness wherever she goes. On this front, some days I did better than others. But for a very shy introvert like myself, some days it was damn hard.
But I can honestly say that being with the kids was a joy. Not every day, and not all day—but most of the time, we had fun. I couldn’t have done it for so long if we didn’t. More next week.
How do you feel about your job? Is it a joy or a burden or something in between?